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Ruth begins telling her story by insisting that she is "dead": her Orthodox Jewish family "sat shiva" and "said kaddish" after she married a black man, thereby effectively disowning her. Ruth, however, states that "the Jew" in her only died completely upon her mother's death. Soon afterwards, she was "born again" in the Christian faith. Her husband stood alongside her, and together they created a new family. Ruth tells her son that Rachel Deborah Shilsky "had to die in order for me, the rest of me, to live" (2). When Ruth's son James decides to explore his mother's history and origins, the original Rachel Deborah Shilsky figuratively comes back to life within the pages of memoir.